Tow truck companies feel weight of tolls

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Tow truck drivers say the new tolls are hurting their bottom lines. Some have said they’ve had to turn away customers because the job, plus the cost of the tolls, is too much.

“We don’t make a lot of profit like a lot of people think that we do,” said Al Williams, who owns Al’s Towing of Virginia Inc. and Big Joe’s Tow Pros out  of Norfolk.

After 40 years in the business, Williams knows the costs and the customers’ expectations.

“There’s always another guy out there that’s gonna do it cheaper,” said Williams. “If you raise the price, you’ll lose work.”

He went on to say, “It’s a cut throat type business.”

Williams says he can’t charge customers more to cover the new tolls at the Downtown and Midtown tunnels, which are two routes he takes anywhere from ten to twenty times per day. Instead, the cost of the tolls is coming right out of his pocket.

Williams’ trucks are considered ‘heavy vehicles.’ During peak hours, the tolls are nearly $10 per trip through the tunnel without an E-ZPass. Williams said he’s not sure what the final cost of the tolls will mean for his business at the end of each month.

“In a month, who knows, we might get a bill for a thousand dollars from the toll place,” said Williams. “Could be more. I don’t think it would be any less.”

Al’s Towing is a contractor with all the motor clubs and roadside assistance companies. He said those companies are a big part of how he gets business. According to Williams and many other towing companies in the area, they’re not covering the tolls either.

“Customers don’t want to pay for it,” said Williams. “The motor clubs, roadside assistance don’t want to pay for it. And we’re stuck pretty basically paying for it.”

Williams did say he’s chosen at this point not to have the E-ZPass on his 15 commercial trucks.

A AAA Tidewater Virginia spokeswoman said their fleet of vehicles have had E-ZPass transponders for years. She said they have not had complaints about the tolls from contractors.

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